Ok, so I've been agonizing over this post for a few days. How to word it. What to focus on. How vehement to get. And after spending a relaxing Tuesday to myself, I decided simple and to the point was the best way to go.
I have decided, after much deliberation (and seeing a play this weekend that put me over the edge) that I will not patronize theatres in Boston that bring in actors, designers, or directors from New York. I use patronize loosely as I rarely pay for tickets...and when I do I get the cheapest possible seat. But I do go. And I sit, and ponder, and watch. I want to see brilliant theatre. I want to see all of our companies producing solid work. But more often than not, the companies with the largest budgets and therefore the means to set the standard for Boston theatre are employing actors, designers, and directors out of New York AND the shows they are producing are mediocre at best.
The few Boston actors I see in these productions almost always far outshine the imports, if for no other reason than they are more familiar with the theater itself and able to perform better in it. But usually too because their roots are here. They've been working and building careers here for years. And they want to give us brilliant theatre as much as we want to see it. Because we're their people. The NYC actors, while always "technically" sound bring no soul, they are merely players for hire.
I bid no ill will to the New Yorkers who come through town. They are, after all, just trying to earn another paycheck and get a good solid role under their belt. Every actor's quest (or designer or director for that matter). And good for them that they are indeed working. It is a hard profession to be in no matter where you are based.
But it is my firm belief that Boston will only continue to grow as a theatre city if we support our local artists exclusively. If we cultivate our hometown talent, pay them for what they're worth, help them earn their union statuses, and keep them working on our stages for years and years. It will expand our artist pool. It will diversify it. It will help set the standards higher at all levels. And that is what we need to produce good professional theatre. Dedicated artists who are valued for the work they do and recognized for the talent they possess.
And as long as audiences, grant makers, and private donors continue to endow companies that mainly employ non-local artists our strongest members will continue to leave, our companies will continue to pass off sub-par work as great theater, and we will remain static. Boston has come a long way in 10 years, but to keep moving forward we need more support.